The Federal Government on Thursday flagged off two schemes to financially support about 1.7 million micro, small and medium enterprises across the country with N75bn.
At a briefing on the flag-off of the National MSME Survival Fund and the Guaranteed Off-take Stimulus Schemes under the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum, said the schemes would impact positively on businesses in the country.
The Economic Sustainability Plan was approved by the Federal Executive Council on June 24, 2020, following its initiation by the Economic Sustainability Committee that was established by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, on March 30, 2020.
The committee, which is chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, comprises of several ministers and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation as well as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic globally, the Buhari administration has said it would not relent in its efforts towards improving the country’s healthcare infrastructure and economy, while creating more jobs for millions of Nigerians in different sectors, supporting small businesses, local production and manufacturing, as well as extending the social safety net for the most vulnerable in society, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Speaking on the Buhari administration’s efforts to cushion the effects of the pandemic on Nigerians, the Vice President stated that improving healthcare infrastructure remains a major objective of the administration.
He said, “Out of the N500bn initial stimulus fund that is factored into the current budget, N126bn of it is going into healthcare.
In her address at the briefing, Katagum stated that in keeping to its promise to support businesses overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government was set to commence nationwide implementation of the two MSME initiatives.
Katagum said the N60bn MSME Survival Fund and the Payroll Support schemes would be rolled out first, adding that the N15bn Guaranteed Off-take Scheme would then follow.
She said, “Both schemes are at the core of the N2.3tn stimulus package, also known as the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan being implemented to help cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is with a view to boosting the economy by saving existing jobs and creating new job opportunities.”
The minister said a 10-man committee, which she chairs, was inaugurated in August with membership from the private and public sectors including the Vice-Chairperson, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, Chairman of First Bank.
Katagum said the committee also had representatives of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, adding that the team had developed a workable template for the execution of the programme.
She said, “The survival fund scheme is expected to commence immediately while the Guaranteed Off-take Scheme will follow as soon as the proper modalities are put in place to meet current realities.
The Director-General of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), Dr Dikko Umaru Radda, who thanked President Muhammadu Buhari on behalf of the MSMEs for the fund, said the Survival Fund was a welcome development to reduce the effect of COVID-19 on MSMEs.
The representative of the Organized Private Sector, who is also a Board of Trustees Member of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Ubadigbo Okonkwo, said the survival fund was a timely stimulus package for MSMEs in Nigeria.
However, he expressed concern about the short duration and small size of the schemes and urged the federal government to implement follow-up MSME support programmes at the planned expiry of the two schemes.
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